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Today is Safer Internet Day in Europe, but before you laugh try this game

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[France] Ok listen-up kids. Today is “Safer internet Day”. Got that? So put that web browser down right now before you take someone eye out.

But seriously folks – the day is organized each year by Insafe, a “European network of Awareness Centres” promoting safe, responsible use of the Internet and mobile devices to young people. Yes if that sounds like it’s co-funded by the European Union’s Safer Internet Programme, that’s because it is. In case you can’t guess, the idea is to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially amongst children and young people. So far so do-gooder.

This year, the topic is “Think B4 U post”. (It reminds me of think before you tweet).

In a few years, it has become important for young people to understand the impact of their online presence, their actions on the web. But in all seriousness, it’s our role – that of startups, social networks, social media etc – not to forget that children and teenagers can use our new wonderful tools in a way they were not thought of: posting pictures on Facebook, meeting new people within communities, posting videos from their mobile phone… all these features are both wonderful but also potentially dangerous when not used correctly. Especially now that location based services are taking off.

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In France, the CNIL (French administrative authority whose mission is to ensure that data privacy law is applied to the collection, storage, and use of personal data) in association with Internet Sans Crainte has launched today, realized by Tralalere, a serious game about social networks called 2025 Ex Machina.

It’s the first time a serious game has been used in a prevention campaign to warn about the dangers or drifts of social networks. The game is only in French by now, but it should be translated soon to be used in other countries.

The game takes place in 2025. In 2010, the use of social networks was widely used without always thinking what could be the consequence a few years after. Now in 2025, a website called denicheur.net (the nester) can be used by anyone to find background personal information about someone. The game consists of eight different episodes focusing on one specific use of the social networks. The first one is about a picture taken during a party (classical one…). The player mission is to find back how it was possible that a private picture was made available 15 years after.

I played the game and it’s really well done… because it’s a game! I can fully imagine that the target of this type of communication (teenagers) will appreciate it, and learn some lessons from that. And the game comes with various links or practical resources to invite players to go further, to learn more. This makes the game a very useful resource (for free) for teachers or for parents.

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